I never really got the big deal about Father Christmas. I’m not sure how young I was, maybe 5 or 6 when I worked out that he probably wasn’t real. But it didn’t really bother me so much. I knew my parents gave me the gifts and I was thankful that I had so many things to open on Christmas Day, regardless of who they came from.
I think that believing in Santa changes the way a child approaches Christmas. They might write him a letter asking him for lavish gifts that their parents will then have to somehow acquire. They might make an extra-effort to be good in the belief that Santa is making his Naughty/Nice list. On Christmas Eve they might leave out milk and cookies, maybe even a carrot or two for the reindeer. They might even go to bed, good as gold, in the hope that when they awake their stockings will be full of wonderful gifts and toys. And when they wake on Christmas morning to a stocking full of presents, they will delight in ‘What Santa Brought!’ and believe that they merited such gifts with their good behaviour.
There’s not much wrong with any of that. But some children are taught about Jesus much the same as Santa – he’s someone you believe in when you’re younger but it doesn’t really affect how you life as an adult. Some might even believe that the good gifts they are given in life have been awarded because of their ‘good’ behaviour. But life isn’t that simple.
Believing in Santa, and believing in Jesus are two very different things. One of them is a timeless figure that remains through the ages; the other is a child who grows into a man. A man who heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and dies for the sin of the world.
“Enjoy the Father Christmas story with your children, and when they question it help them to leave it behind. But enjoy the story of Jesus as well. And when they question it, allow it to lead them forward. It can show them how to inhabit the world.” S. Cottrell
DNCIC recommendations for today:
· Read the story to your children. There are good children’s Bible’s easily available.
· Read the story yourself – but make sure you get a modern translation.
· Enjoy the Father Christmas story, and invent a few weird family traditions of your own. Make a Smartie trail for your kids this Christmas leading from the foot of their bed to the presents under the tree, or a hidden present somewhere in the house.
· If you don’t have one already, invest in a crib and give it the pride of place in the house, and light a candle by it in the evening.
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Jesse Jackson